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Three Month Old Baby Girl Undergoes Groundbreaking Transplant Procedure In Calgary To Save Her Life
November 30, 2012
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A three month old baby girl has undergone a groundbreaking transplant procedure at Alberta Children's Hospital.

Nazdana Jan was born with a rare liver disease called urea cycle disorder, which causes a dangerous build-up of ammonia in her body.

If the disease is left untreated, doctors say it leads to brain damage and death.

Nazdana became very sick a few days after she was born, and was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre.

"It was terrible and it was really, really, hard time...and I can't explain the words," said Jouhar Ali, Nazdana's father.

Doctors were able to stabilize her with medication.

Her parents were then given the chance to have Nazdana undergo an experimental treatment in Calgary.

In the procedure, doctors took liver cells from donors and transplanted them into Nazdana's liver. Those new healthy cells keep her ammonia levels down.

"We give the cells, which are basically a bag of liver cells that are taken from a liver donor, and inject them into a special blood vessel that goes into the liver," said Dr. Aneal Khan - a medical geneticist at Alberta Children's Hospital.

Khan says it's quite tricky to perform a liver transplant in a tiny baby, so this treatment buys Nazdana some time until she's old enough for a full transplant.

Apparently, the procedure had never been peformed before in Canada and only about 20 times in the world - mostly in Germany and the U.S.

Khan says Nazdana is doing so well now, that she's heading back to Winnipeg this weekend.

"She was really in hospital for only about seven days... and she's actually been discharged from hospital and being monitored in clinic every few days," he said.

Nazdana's father says he can't believe it.

"She was struggling with life at that time to survive; now she's absolutely fine. You look at her and she doesn't look like a sick baby... looks like a lovely baby," Ali said.

Ammonia is naturally produced in the body. But people with this disorder have trouble converting ammonia to urea, which is harmless. It's quite rare and there is no cure.

Each year, about 50 babies are born in Canada with the condition.

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